PARIS ARRONDISSEMENT GUIDE: EXPLORE PARIS 6 LIKE A LOCAL
From the Seine in the north to boulevard de Montmarnasse in the south, the 6th arrondissement of Paris is the chic district of Luxembourg and Saint Germain historic Paris neighborhoods. It is well known for its revolutionary intellectualism, beautiful architecture, cute cafes and antique shops so typical of Paris bobo. This is one of the most emblematic – and (warning!) more expensive – Paris arrondissements.
PARIS 6TH ARRONDISSEMENT IN A NUTSHELL
During the Middle Ages, Saint Germain-des-Près was a village outside the Paris city walls. The whole area belonged to the independent Benedictine abbey of Saint Germain, which had its own houses and also stables, chapels, cloisters and prison. Later, other religious congregations (Cordeliers, Carmelites . .) also founded an establishment in Saint-Germain-des-Près.
In the 17th century, the area was urbanized around the church of Saint-Sulpice and the church of Saint-André des Arts. Queen Marie de Medici bought an estate in the district and built the Palace of Luxembourg (today the seat of the Senate) and its magnificent gardens. The new Palace turned the neighborhood into a fashionable district for French nobility who built beautiful hôtels particuliers in the area.
The Latin Quarter also extended to Saint Germain and many university and cultural centres established in the area, like the National School of Fine Arts or Collège des 5 Nations. Following these educational institutions, many bookshops and publishing houses also opened in Saint Germain, contributing to the district’s intellectual (and later revolutionary) atmosphere.
During the French Revolution, Saint Germain Abbey was closed down by the revolutionary Assembly and used for gunpowder storage. Unfortunately an explosion in 1794 destroyed most of the buildings and only the monastic church and the Abbey Palace survived.
A NEW GOLDEN AGE FOR SAINT GERMAIN
After the Second World War, Saint Germain became a center of intellectual and cultural life in Paris, with the presence of interesting writers and artists like Marguerite Duras, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, François Truffaut, Picasso, Giacometti and many more. All these cool people liked to wander around Saint Germain and enjoy its particular atmosphere and a good intellectual discussion at Café Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore. At night, philosophers, authors and artists mixed in breweries and smoky nightclubs, where existentialist philosophy coexisted with American jazz. Paris 6 was home of much of the major post-war intellectual and literary movements such as existentialism , surrealism, and modern feminism.
THE 6TH ARRONDISSEMENT TODAY
From the beginning of the 70s, the reputation of Saint-Germain-des-Près attracted international tourism, who gradually transformed the neighborhood with their money. Luxury boutiques and art galleries established in Saint Germain and the price of real estate increased considerably, with prohibited prices for locals. Consequently many bookstores and small shops had to close and the headquarters of major publishing houses and universities had to move to other parts of Paris. Today the intellectual prestige of Paris 6 is vanished and Saint Germain has lost its soul forever. However, the beautiful XVIIth century architecture and a couple of iconic sites still remain and Saint Germain is still a nice place to wander.
Open to the public since Napoléon’s reign, Luxembourg Gardens are today amongst the most popular parks in Paris. Luxembourg Gardens are always a nice plan for a sunny day in Paris.
TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN PARIS 6
No surprises here: you can find all these Paris Monuments and Paris points of interest on all the guidebooks about Paris so no post talking about the 6th arrondissement would be complete without the top tourist attractions in Paris. If this is your first trip to Paris you will like to visit some of them, they are very touristy but beautiful !
Jardin du Luxembourg
Musée Eugène Delacroix
Church of Saint-Germain-des-Près
Church of Saint Sulpice
Café Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore
QUIRKY AND UNUSUAL SIGHTS IN PARIS 6
Some of them are part of famous places in Paris. Some of them are Paris best kept secrets. This is our personal list of unusual things to see in Paris 6.
Cour vitrée at Beaux Arts de Paris – stunning neoclassical architecture in the world’s oldest school of arts
Rue de Furstenberg – a nice street /square with a small town feeling
Bibliothèque Mazarine – another piece of paradise in Paris, full of ancient books
Paris’ Meridian lines – at 11 Quai de Conti (vertical Meridian line) and inside Church of Saint Sulpice
The marble Meter Standard – placed in 1796, it helped Parisians to get used to the new metric system. Only 2 original standards survive. This one is at 36, rue Vaugirard
Monumental Medici Fountain – located at Luxembourg Gardens, shows giant Polyphemus surprising Acis and Galatea
The (unfinished) Virgin of the Smile – rare to find “Vierges Parisiennes” are easily recognizable by their characteristic smile (Vierge au sourire). This one is at Church of Saint Germain
UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 6
On our Paris Arrondissement Guides we like to encourage people to beat the crowds and explore Paris beyond its main sights. Despite being one of the most touristy Paris districts, we like to visit Paris 6 from time to time, especially when the weather is nice. This is our personal list of unique things to do in Paris 6 to enjoy Paris like a local.
Read Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau Ivre” painted on a wall – Arthur Rimbaud’s most famous poem is at Rue Férou
Sail your mini vintage wooden boat – on the duck pond of Luxembourg Gardens
Test your chess – challenge the locals at Luxembourg Gardens
Explore beautiful inner courtyards in Saint Germain – wander around Saint Germain with no direction and find them by yourself ; -)
What about a haute-pâtisserie tour? – Treat yourself and wander around Café Pouchkine , Pierre Hermé, Ladurée and Angelina, all with boutiques in Paris 6
EATING IN PARIS 6 LIKE A LOCAL
Check our proposals (by Paris arrondissements) on Yummy Paris. Affordable restaurants in Paris 6 but also Paris bistros or Paris street food. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions. Come back to Yummy Paris from time to time to read the newest additions.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 6
On “Where to Stay in Paris” section we like to propose our top options in each price bracket for a specific district of Paris. However in the 6th arrondissement of Paris it is really difficult to find quality budget hotels (-100€ /night). That’s why we prefer to give you two Mid Range Hotels instead. These are our picks for Paris 6, hope you will like them! You can also click on the following link to check all the hotel options for Paris 6
NB: The same hotel may be in two different price brackets depending on the kind of room you choose.
One of the top choices in Paris 6. This hotel is in a 16th-century mansion in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with unique designed rooms, with different styles. . It has classy common spaces. a garden, a spa and a fitness center.
This is one of the best mid range hotels in Paris. Chic and modern hotel located at only few metres from Luxembourg Gardens. Rooms are fancy and colorful. We especially like its chic dinning area and floral courtyard, where you can take your breakfast or a drink.
This is a very affordable hotel, located in Saint Germain-des-Près, with correct and well equipped rooms. This hotel has a good price and a cool restaurant and panoramic terrace with city views.
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